The Transportation Experience in America
A Research Guide

Visual Resources

Devlin, D. et al. (Producers). & Paine, C. (Director). (2006). Who killed the electric car? [Sony pictures classics]. Culver City, CA: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. [WELLS – TL220 .W485 2006]

This documentary profiles the short life of the General Motors EV1 model, an entirely electrically-powered vehicle. Though public reaction was strong and demand high, the cars were not only discontinued, but also recalled and destroyed. Using this controversy as a backdrop, the filmmakers assess the viability of non-petroleum-based vehicles in both the immediate future and the longer term.

Hott, L.R. & Lewis, T. (Producers). (2003). Divided highways. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences. [IUPUI – HE355.3.E94 D58 2003]

This film was adapted from the book of the same name by Tom Lewis. It traces the development of the Interstate Highway System (and by extension, all American highways) from its inception to its construction, backlash and implications on commerce and culture. Several historians and celebrities are interviewed. A transcript is available at here.

Olson, M. (Producer) & Klein, J. (Director). (1996). Taken for a ride: A film. Hohokus, NJ: New Day Films. [WELLS – HE4551 .T336 1996]

This film uses a combination of investigative journalism and historical research to probe into the cause of the decline of streetcars (and other forms of rail transit) in American cities in the early to mid twentieth century. Though the tone of the film is somewhat bleak, it offers some insight into the rise of the primacy of the automobile, at the expense of other modes of travel.

Silverthorn, B. (Producer). & Greene, G. (Director). (2004). The end of suburbia: Oil depletion and the collapse of the American dream. Toronto: The Electric Wallpaper Co. [WELLS – HT352.U6 E52 2004]

Greene’s documentary establishes a direct correlation between the rise of suburban development, and the concomitant ubiquitous use of automobiles as their residents’ sole form of travel, and increased dependence on oil. This unabated dependence, it is argued, will result in environmental and economic chaos. Produced in Canada, it offers somewhat of an outside point of view, though the issues raised certainly apply to both nations.